EV SPEAKS OUT
Equal Voice invites you to Be her. Support her. Celebrate her.

 

Be Her or Support Her: The view from Alberta

Sep 22, 2010

 

By Janet Buckmaster. As published in Womanition magazine.

 

“At home and around the globe these women are making their voices heard.”
 

So reads the Equal Voice poster on my wall that celebrates the women of the
40th Parliament and Canadian Senate.

 

Just as Womanition magazine recognizes and promotes women entrepreneurs inbusiness, Equal Voice recognizes women in politics and promotes electing more women at all levels of government in Canada.

 

Women are half of the population in Alberta and in Canada, but are nowhere near half of the political decision-making structures that shape our daily lives. In the 2008 federal election, Canada saw the highest number in its history of women seeking federal office – nearly 28% though only 22% were elected. Municipal statistics published by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities show only 25% of Mayors and Councillors in Alberta are female.

 

If women do business differently, or participate in community in different ways than men, or have a different household role than men, might more women in politics lead changes to do things differently? The United Nations believes so – that a minimum of 30% of women elected is required so that political decisions accurately reflect issues of importance to women.

 

The Canada West Foundation’s 2008 publication, What Women Want: Gender Differences in Public Opinion and Political Engagement in Western Canada indicated that as long as women remained more reticent than men to engage in political activity, women’s stronger opinions about social and environmental policy would not be reflected in public policy.

 

Women also showed much higher support for reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing – local issues likely to become October election issues.

 

There are many qualities and skills that women in business share with women in politics. Running your own business means you wear many different hats; being an elected representative means you wear many hats.

 

Women in business and women in politics must network; be thoughtful leaders, innovative, accountable for their actions and finances; pay attention to needs and wants of the public; do their research; promote themselves and their ideas to the public and seek support of their peers; balance independent thinking and collaborative strategy; solicit feedback; recognize opportunities and potential;
create positive environments; coach and mentor others; practice risk assessment and sound operating practices; value honesty and loyalty.

 

Women in business and women in politics must also be informed decision makers. Many people associate leadership with power, when it’s really about making change happen with passion, collaboration and community.

 

These similarities between women’s leadership skills in business and politics are reflected in Equal Voice’s message to women in Alberta for the upcoming October 18, 2010 municipal and school board elections: Be Her or Support Her!

 

Equal Voice is about networking, supporting, encouraging, reporting, advocating, and above all, reminding everyone that women’s equal representation be reflected in our governments.

 

Why is Equal Voice needed?

 

A 2008 national public opinion poll conducted by Environics Research Group showed that 85% of Canadians supported “efforts to increase the number of women elected in this country.” Women were almost universal (90%) in their desire to see more women elected, and a large majority of men (79%)
also supported these efforts.

 

EQUAL VOICE Be Her or Support Her

Founded in 2001, Equal Voice has become an influential, national, multi-partisan volunteer organization working for the election of more women to all levels of government. Equal Voice invites all women in their diversity of political views, and men, to become members in local chapters to support electing more women in government.

 

Interest in the work of Equal Voice is evident in its growth: since 2001, Equal Voice has grown from a founding chapter to a National level organization with multiple chapters in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador.

 

In Alberta, there are three chapters: Equal Voice Alberta South (EVAS), Equal Voice Alberta North (EVAN) and a youth chapter on campus at the University of Alberta (EVUA).

 

For girls and young women…

On their Experience’s Mentorship Program website, Equal Voice posted videos of elected women who are role models speaking up about the need to mentor young women and increase women’s political participation. Listen and watch as Alberta women MLA Janice Sarich, Beaumont Town Councillor Jacqueline Biollo and Strathcona County Councillor Linda Osinchuk share their Experiences.

 

Mentors with EV’s Experiences Program include an Alberta MP, MLAs, and City, Town and County councillors – women and men. Watch for Equal Voice’s Youth Campaign School for high school girls in Grande Prairie in late 2010.

 

You’re already active in your community: Have you ever considered running for elected office?
We can help.

Equal Voice’s self-paced on-line Campaign School provides practical tools for women from all walks of life thinking about running for public office. Getting to the Gate guides women through the requirements and demands of running for public office at all levels, from Town Council or Band Office to provincial legislatures to the Prime Minister’s Office.


How can you make a difference?

√ Run for office!
√ Support a woman running for office!
√ Donate to a woman’s campaign.
√ Volunteer on a woman’s campaign.
√ Door knock with a female candidate to learn
more about issues affecting your community.
√ Vote!
√ Take a young woman to vote for her first
time.
√ Be a role model – bring your children with
you to vote.
√ Join Equal Voice. www.equalvoice.ca
√ Donate to Equal Voice.
√ Watch the Experience’s videos with a young adult in your life, to hear different
perspectives. http://www.equalvoice.ca/ experiences/index.cfm
√ Educate yourself as to how policy or political decisions might impact women differently
than men.
√ Ask questions at candidate forums, and of candidates who come to your door.
√ Join a political party.
√ Complete Equal Voice’s non-partisan on-line Campaign School Getting to the Gate and plan to run in future. http://www. gettingtothegate.com/

 

Janet Buckmaster, Chair
Equal Voice - Alberta North (EVAN) chapter
Email: albertanorth@equalvoice.ca
Phone: (780) 472-9052?

 

Get involved... in equal voice chapters from coast to coast.
Find one near you, or perhaps even start a chapter.

Getting to the Gate Online Campaign School:
For women of all ages, back- grounds & walks of life interest- ed in running for public office.

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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.